tv MSNBC Live With Tamron Hall MSNBC December 28, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PST
middle east peace. kerry is expected to respond to accusations the u.s. orchestrated a u.n. vote condemning new israeli settlements. new reaction this morning from president-elect trump. a massive sinkhole in michigan the size of a football field. officials worry it could cave in completely. and remembering carrie fisher. co-stars, family and friends pay tribute. a look back at her life that went beyond the camera. good morning, everyone. coming to you live from our msnbc headquarters here in new york. breaking news this hour. we're waiting for secretary of state john kerry expected to speak at the state department. a senior official telling nbc news he will candidly respond to accusations by israeli prime minister netanyahu that the obama administration orchestrated the united nations security council resolution
condemning settlements in the west bank and jerusalem. an accusation the white house has denied. ahead of kerry's remarks, israel reportedly canceled a vote on building hundreds of new homes and settlements in east jerusalem. reuters reporting the request to postpone that vote came from prime minister netanyahu himself in an attempt to deescalate tensions with the outgoing obama administration prior to secretary kerry's remarks we're going to be listening to in a moment. also this morning, strong statements from trump who tweeted, we cannot continue to let israel be treated with such total disdain and respect. the beginning of the end was the horrible iran deal and now this. u.n. stay strong, israel. january 20th is fast approaching. to which prime minister netanyahu responded in the past hour tweeting president-elect trump thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for israel. as we wait for the secretary of
state, nbc's kelly cobiella joins us. >> we spoke to prime minister netanyahu's spokesperson in the past hour and asked him whether or not they had any advance warning of what the speech would entail. none according to him. they've heard what we've heard from state department spokesman mike toner that this would be a laying out of a new perhaps road map, principles for middle east peace. the government as a whole -- i should say many members of the government here in israel have been extremely critical of this idea of secretary kerry coming out now, a month away from a new incoming administration and talking about mideast peace once again. there are a couple of concerns. some very harsh words, excuse
me. and also a couple of concerns on the part of some within the government. primarily the public security minister saying today that this will tie the hands of the trump administration. that if the obama administration comes forward putting pressure once again on a new mideast peace deal, that then ties the hands, forces the trump administration potentially into a corner. particularly given that this sort of summit is coming up in france next month, a gathering of some 20 countries, to restart the peace deal. they're worried this is going to put israel on the defensive. at the same time, a culture minister was speaking out today saying who is obama, obama is history essentially, you know, putting faith in the trump administration that they would override any sort of policy that the outgoing obama administration is trying to put in place now. >> let me ask you this, same for
the palestinians, are you hearing anything from the palestinian side as to what may be coming out of secretary of state john kerry's remarks at the state department? >> not nearly as month and not nearly as vocal. their focus is really on official lines has been the trump administration and the -- sorry, the israeli government saying, look, if we want a new mideast peace deal, then let's talk settlements. we're ready to talk about settlements. you need to freeze settlements. that's been their line now for more than two years since mideast peace talks began. but in terms of kerry's speech and a new road map to peace, again, the parameters are still there. no to settlements, get back to the table and start talking. >> all right, live for us in tel aviv. as you heard kelly talking, i'm sure they'll come up in the remarks at the state departnt
settlements. one of the sticking points of any lasting peace agreement. i'm joined by cal perry. a lasting peace between palestinians and israel. >> for the obama administration, they view it as the main obstacle to peace. in what they call a two state solution. here is the state of israel with the west bank, the gaza strip would be right here. if you take a look at the map with settlements on it, tre are 125. your blue dotare settlements. 125 sanctioned settlements. still considered illegal under international law. plus 100 outposts. what it does, it makes for a very could be fusie confusing m. in red, the settlements. keep in mind, this is the occupied west bank. this is the security wall that runs here. the big wall that they put in. now, keep in mind in addition to these settlements, you have
roads to support the settlements. this road here is closed. it's only accessible by people who live on the settlement. this is what palestinians talk about when they talk about lack of access. settlements have their own water supply, their own schools. it's a piece of israel in the west bank. >> those roads, checkpoints, restricted only to israelis traveling in and out of the settlements. but in terms of what impact they have on palestinian communities, talk to us a little bit about that. what are the impacts these settlements have in terms of palestinian land con first situati confiscatations. >> you can see, you have a settlement here. another settlement here. settlements over here. all these roads where you see the blue xs, those are checkpoint, where the israeli army is. if you're palestinian, you live in the old city and you want to get here to visit family
members, well, newly declared closed military area. you can't do it. that's what we're talking about when we talk about restricted access. >> let's talk about the debate over settlements. they seem to be in israel there's a much more robust debate about settlements in terms of whether they've been good for israel in the long term, in terms of security and peace, whether they are part of the ideology to settle that land. is the debate there sometimes more robust than what we hear in the u.s. or in the west? >> much more robust. i mean, far more robust. the israeli media does not hold back on political issues or issues of settlements like this. polling has showed about 60% of israelis are full settlements for security issues. what some people may not realize is many settlers are exempt from military service. if you're israeli, you have to serve. but for religious reasons, many settlers don't serve in the military. this settlement still needs protection. so somebody from the israeli
army or unit has to be stationed deep in the west bank in order to protect that settlement. that is a major political problem in israel. >> so the bottom line is why in this particular case do you think it's been so hard to bring these two sides about resolving some issues? >> for the israeli politicians, especially this administration, the administration of benjamin netanyahu, it's a security issue. they view settlements as necessary for israel. israel proper here's security. they view these settlements as the front line. this has become the new front line. the new israeli settlers. what was 80 years ago a kobutz is now a settlement in many ways. >> nbc's cal perry, thank you. let's bring in msnbc's kacie hunt who is covering the trump transition. the president-elect still at his mar oa lago estate in florida. first, let me ask you about this ongoing issue with israel and the united nations.
>> this is in many ways unprecedented. the fact that you are now essentially having an ongoing conversation between the prime minister of israel and a president-elect while there is still a sitting united states administration in the obama administration. so trump tweeting out this morn morning about israel, quote, we cannot continue to let israel be tweeted with such total disdain and disrespect. they used to have a great friend in the u.s. then it continues into a second tweet, but not anymore. the beginning of the end was the horrible iran deal and now this u.n. stay strong israel. january 20th is fast approaching. essentially saying hey, just wait, hang out until i get inaugurated and things will be fine. we just had this in with benjamin netanyahu. also tweeting a response here to donald trump. saying, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for israel. that's from benjamin netanyahu's verified account. and of course this is all back
and forth over this u.n. resolution and exactly how it came to be with the israelis of course out there saying that the united states was behind it, that they have evidence to that effect. the israeli newspaper herretz reporting this was a meeting in washington where they talked to palestinian leaders and essentially said if this language is balanced, it's all fine. we have not confirmed that reporting at this point. >> let me ask you about meetings on trump's schedule today. any significant or notable visits or meetings taking place? >> we know he has meetings starting right about now. we don't have a full sense quite yet in a reportable way. but he is staying being active his tweets so as soon as we know
we'll bring it to you. >> joining me now our former u.s. ambassador to israel and egypt. good to have both of you with us. let me begin with you and talk about president-elect trump tweets. what do you see in those tweets in terms of what may happen come january 20th as it relates to israel/palestine? >> i remember during the campaign, president-elect trump spoke of ungrateful allies. people that the u.s. was helping militarily and financially and diplomatically and that were not paying their due or not being supportive of the u.s. you have here with israel a very ungrateful ally. who just received $38 billion in a military package that received diplomatic support and they were only requested to stop their colonialism and give a chance
for speech. we hope president-elect trump looking at this policy of the u.s. for 50 years against settlement building and understanding '67 borders are the demarcation line between peace and war. and that consolidating them helps the parties. erasing them like netanyahu government is doing harms the parties. we hope he will move those conditions. >> are you hopeful you will have a u.s. president capable? or givenhe tweets, it do not look like that? >> early in the campaign, he said he wanted to be neutral. we are in favor of negotiations. what we have refused are baseless and aimless negotiations. so we hope that president-elect trump will take the time to hear parties, to look at where the national consensus is. there's a reason why this resolution was adopted with the support of everyone and the
abstention of the u.s. these were not enemies of anyone. these were friends of peace trying to save the two-state solution. >> i'd like to bring you in and ask the same question as well. the ambassador, do you feel optimistic about january 20th? >> no, not at all. what's really unusual here is the degree to which the president-elect has injected himself into ongoing diplomacy and politics while waiting to become president. what's also unusual is the degree to which prime minister netanyahu has treated the sitting president so poorly. you have this very unusual and destructive mix of activities. the u.n. resolution was focused on settlements. it was not anti-israel.
it was on israel's policy on the west bank. which the united states has opposed since 1967. the obama administration is, in fact, the first administration to only allow one u.n. security council resolution condemnation of israel -- >> mr. ambassador, in that sense, do you believe the obama administration has been a supporter of israel or has been very anti-israeli, even some saying anti-semantic towards israel? >> an objective look at the policies -- i no longer work for the government, but this is probably the friendlyist u.s. administration israel has had. the iron dome, which was the anti-missile battery system, in terms of protection in the u.n. this has been an incredibly supportive administration. there's been tension at the top.
the prime minister and the president don't get along but u.s./israeli relations are better today than they've ever been before which makes prime minister netanyahu's war of words against the president so unusual. >> let me play you this sound bite. the ambassador speaking about the u.s./israel relationship which you also referenced. >> we hope we will see a new approach when president trump will enter the white house and that should be he should negotiate without us coming and telling you what to do. we are not stupid. the prime minister of israel is saying we know that the administration was behind this shameful resolution. it is a fact. >> what does, you know, this kind of language from your colleague at the united nations really mean for the relationship between israel and the united states? >> the israeli ambassador to the u.n. in his speech that you should play at some point said who gave you right, addressing the u.n. security council members. he said, we are building
jerusalem like you're building in paris and washington and london and moscow and beijing. so he doesn't want to acknowledge that the illegal annexation of east jerusalem is not accepted by the world. that this is colonialism. they're grabbing land that belongs to others. these are basics when you want to make peace with an occupied people. the negotiations are not there to legitimize their occupation and colonialism. and, you know, this country has a declaration of independence. it says we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. with rights including liberty. we are seeking freedom. you want us to discuss with the occupying power that says i have no intention to discussion jerusalem, i have no intention to go back to '67 borders, i have no intention to acknowledge palestine rights, you want us to negotiate with them? and the security council has a mandate for international peace and security. they're doing their part. these country, the uk, france, spain, their enemies.
friends of israel and friends of palestine and friends of peace are worried we're sliding towards apartheid. they don't want to say that. that's why they're afraid for israel and for us of what's coming. >> ambassador, let me get your thoughts on this. as you heard there from the israeli ambassador saying he wants to go into direct negotiations. that's a position the israelis have held consistently. they want to go to direct negotiations with the palestinians. no room for any outside pressures or anything in the international arena. as a former serving ambassador to israel and somebody who saw these negotiations unfold, do you think that is the right strategy? is there an approach here that only the israelis and palestinians can solve this when they haven't done it for decades? or can there be some international mechanism to help leverage both parties to the negotiating table? it's not a negotiation between two equal parties as we just heard. >> exactly right. the issues here are far beyond even the bilateral
israeli/palestinian context. you take the situation on the temple mount. it involves muslims worldwide and jews worldwide. you've got a lot of parties involved. jordan, morocco and the arab world so forth. probably many of these issues to be decided bilaterally. security issues and so forth. the parties have proved to have been unable until now to consummate negotiations without outside help. the united states used to play this role. perhaps we need to expand the circle to include other international players. i think it's disingenuous at this moment to suggest if we only left these two parties alone, they'd go and make peace. palestinians have not been that willing to make concessions. the israelis have not been willing to make concessions. i think there's going to be a need for some international shepherding of negotiations. >> all right, ambassador, great to have you with us. we'll certainly get your insights as well after the comments from secretary of state
john kerry. thank you very much for joining us. we're waiting to hear from the secretary. he's set to speak on the obama administration's plans towards middle east peace or at least their vision going forward in the final days of his administration. kerry is expected to respond directly to netanyahu's accusations that the united states orchestrated a u.n. vote condemning new israeli settlements on occupied palestinian territories. we're going to bring you his comments live. coming up, "the washington post" reports that the obama administration will reveal punishments against russia for interfering in united states elections and they could include even covert actions. months after democrats staged a dramatic sit-in, republicans are now pushing a new rule that would discipline lawmakers who take videos or photos on the house floor. one democrat saying bring it on. and why police in arkansas are demanding complete access to a murder suspect's amazon's echo.
we want to grow straight to john kerry speaking at the state department in washington, d.c. let's take a listen. >> for one simple reason. because the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between israelis and palestinians. it is the only way to ensure israel's future as a jewish and
democratic state. living in peace and security with its neighbors. it is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the palestinian people. and it is an important way of advancing united states interests in the region. now, i'd like to explain why that future is now in jeopardy. and provide some context for why we could not in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the united nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace. i'm also here to share my conviction that there is still a way forward if the responsible parties are willing to act. i want to share practical suggestions for how to preserve and advance the prospects for
the just and lasting peace that both sides deserve. so it is vital that we have an honest clear-eyed conversation about the uncomfortable truths and difficult choices. the alternative fast becoming the reality on the ground is in nobody's interest. not the israelis. not the palestinians. not the region. and not the united states. now, i want to stress that there is an important point here. my job above all is to defend the united states of america. to stand up for and defend our values. and our interests in the world. and if we wereo stand idly by d kn in doing so we're allowing a dangerous dynamic to take hold. which promises greater conflict and instability to a region in which we have vital interest. we would be derelict in our own
responsibilities. regrettably, some seem to believe that the u.s. friendship means the u.s. must accept any policy regardless of our own interests. our own positions. our own words. our own prciples. even after urging again and again that the policy must change. friends need to tell each other the hard truths. and friendships require mutual respect. israel's permanent representative to the united states, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week, quote, it was to be expected that israel's greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share. and veto this resolution. i am compelled to respond today that the united states did, in fact, vote in accordance with our values.
just as previous u.s. administrations have done at the security council before us. they fail to recognize that this friend, the united states of america, that has done more to support israel than any other country, this friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize israel, cannot be true to our own values or even the stated democratic values of israel. and we cannot properly defend and protect israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes. and that's the bottom line. the vote in the united nations was about preserving the two-state solution. that's what we were standing up for. israel's future is a jewish and democratic state. living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. that's what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for
theirs. in fact, this administration has been israel's greatest friend and supporter with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing israel's security and protecting its legitimacy. on this point, i want to be very clear. no american administration has done more for israel's security than barack obama. the israeli prime minister himself has noted our, quote, unprecedente military intelligence cooperation. our military exercises are more advanced than ever. our assistance for iron dome has saved countless israeli lives. we have consistently supported israel's right to defend itself by itself, including during actions in gaza that sparked great controversy. time and again we have demonstrated we have israel's back. we have strongly opposed
boycotts, investment campaigns and sanctions targeting israel in international forum. wherever and whenever its la jis me legitimacy was attacked and we have fought across the u.n. system. in the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support israel. in fact, more than one half of our entire global foreign military financing goes to israel. and this fall, we concluded an historic $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package the united states has provided to any count at any time. and will invest in cutting-edge missile defense and sustain israel's qualitative military edge for years to come. that's the measure of our support. this commitment is israel's
security is actually very personal for me. on my first trip to israel as a young senator in 1986, i was captivated by a special country. one that i immediately admired and soonrew to love. over the years, like so many others who were drawn to this extraordinary place, i have climbed masata, swum in the dead sea, driven from one biblical city to the other. i've also seen the dark side of hezbollah rocket storage facilities just across the border in lebanon. walked through the exhibits of the hell of the holocaust. stood on the golan heights and piloted an israeli jet over the tiny airspace of israel. which would make anyone understand the importance of security to israelis. out of those experiences came a steadfast commitment to israel's security that has never wavered for a single minute in my 28
years in the senate or my four years as secretary. i've often visited west bank communities where i met palestinians struggling for basic freedom and dignity amidst the occupation. passed by military checkpoints that can make even the most routine daily trips to work or school an ordeal. and heard from business leaders who could not get the permits they needed to get their products to the market and families who have struggled to secure permission just to travel for needed medical care. and i have witnessed firsthand the ravages of a conflict that has gone on for far too long. i've seen israeli children whose playgrounds have been hit by katyusha rockets. i visited shelters next to schools. the kids had 15 seconds to get to after a warning siren went off. i've seen the devastation of war in the gaza strip where
palestinian girls played in the rubble of a bombed out building. no children, israeli or palestinian, should have to live like that. so despite the obvious difficulties that i understood when i became secretary of state, i knew that i had to do everything in my power to help end this conflict. and i was grateful to be working for president obama, who is prepared to take risks for peace and was deeply committed to that effort. like previous u.s. administrations, we have committed our influence and our resources to trying to resolve the arab israeli conflict because yes, it would serve american interests to stabilize a volatile region and fulfill america's commitment to the survival, security and well being of an israel at peace with its arab neighbors. despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state
solution is now in serious jeopardy. the truth is that trends on the ground, violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation, they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides. increasingly cementing an irreversible one state reality that most people do not actually want. today, there are a number of -- there are a similar number of jews and palestinians living between the jordan river and mediterranean sea. they have a choice. they can choose to live together in one state or they can separate into two states. but here is a fundamental reality. if the choice is one state,
israel can either be jewish or democratic, it cannot be both. and it won't ever really be at peace. moreover, the palestinians will never fully realize their vast potential in a homeland of their own with a one-state solution. now, most on both sides understand this basic choice. and that is why it is important that polls of israelis and palestinians show that there is still strong i posupport for th two-state solution in theory. any just don't believe it can happen. after decades of conflict, many no longer see the other side as people. only as threats and enemies. both sides continue to push a narrative that plays to people's fears and reinforces the worst stereotypes. rather than working to change
perceptions and build up belief in the possibility of peace. and the truth is, the extraordinary polarization in this conflict extends beyond israelis and palestinians. allies of both sides are content to reinforce this with you're with us or against us mentality. where too often anyone who questions palestinian actions is an apologist for the occupation and anyone who disagrees with israel policy is cast as anti-israel or anti-semantic. that's one of the most striking realities about the current situation. this critical decision about the future, one state or two states, is effectively being made on the ground every single day. despite the expressed opinion of the majority of the people. the status quo is leading
towards one state. and perpetual occupation. but most of the public either ignores it or has given up hope anything can be done to change it. the problem only gets worse. the risks get greater. the choices are narrowed. this sense of hopelessness amongst israelis is exacerbated by the continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians and incitement which are destroying belief and the possibility of peace. let me say it again. there is absolutely no justification for terrorism and there never will be. and the not recent wave of palestinian violence has included hundreds of terrorist attacks in the past year. including stabbings, shootings, vehicle attacks and bombings. many by individuals who have been radicalized by social media. yet the murderers of innocents
are still glorified on fatah websites. including showing attackers next to palestinian leaders following attacks. and despite statements by president abbas and his party's leaders making clear their opposition to violence, too often they send a different message by failing to condemn specific terrorist attacks and naming public squares, streets and schools after terrorists. president obama and i have made it clear to the palestinian leadership countless times publicly, privately, that all incitement to violence must stop. we have consistently condemned violence and terrorism. and even condemned the palestinian leadership for not condemning it. far too often, the palestinians have pursued efforts to delegitimize israel in international forera. we have opposed these
initiatives. including the recent unesco resolution regarding jerusalem. we have made clear our strong opposition to palestinian efforts against israel at the icc. which only sets back the prospects for peace. there is a lot more to do to strengthen its institutions and improve governance. most troubling of all, hamas continues to pursue an extremist agenda. they refuse to accept israel's very right to exist. they have a one-state vision of their own. all of the land is palestine. hamas and other radical factions are responsible for the most explicit forums of incitement to violence and many of the images they use are truly appalling. and they are willing to kill innocents in israel and put the people of gaza at risk in order
to advance that agenda. compounding this, the humanitarian situation in gaza, exacerbated by the closings of the crossings, is dire. gaza is home to one of the world's closest concentrations of people. 1.3 million people out of gaza's population of 1.8 million are in need of daily assistance. food and shelter. most have electricity less than half the time. and only 5% of the water is safe to drink. and yet despite the urgency of these needs, hamas and other militant groups continue to rearm and divert reconstruction materials to build tunnels, threatening pour attamore attacn israeli civilians that no government can tolerate. now, at the same time, we have to be clear about what is happening in the west bank.
the israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution. but his current coalition is the most right wing in israeli history, with an agenda driven by extreme elements. the result is that policies of this government, which the prime minister himself just described, is more committed to settlements than any in israel's history. are leading in the opposite direction. they're leading towards one state. in fact, israel has increasingly consolidated control over much of the west bank for its own purposes. effectively reversing the transitions to greater palestinian civil authority than were calleded for ed fofor by accords. i don't think most people in israel and certainly in the world have any idea how broad and systemic the process has become. but the facts speak for
themselves. the number of settlers in the roughly 130 israeli settlements east of the 1967 lines has steadily grown. the settler upon latipopulation increased by nearly 270,000 since oslo. including 100,000 just since 2009 when president obama's term began. there's no point in pretending that these are just in large settlement blocks. nearly 90,000tlers are living east of the separation barrier created by israel itself. in the middle of what by any reasonable definition would be a future palestinian state. and the population of these distant settlements has grown by 20,000 just since 2009. in fact, just recently, the government approved a
significant new settlement well east of the barrier. closer to jordan than to israel. what does that say to palestinians in particular? but also to the united states and the world about israel's intentions? let me emphasize, this is not to say that the settlements are the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict. of course they are not. nor can you say that if the settlements were suddenly moved, you'd have peace without a broader agreement. you would not. and we understand that in a final status agreement, certain settlements would become part of israel to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 49 years. we understand that. including the new demographic realities that exist on the ground. but if more and more settle lers
are moving into the middle of palestinian areas, it's going to be just that much harder to separate. that much harder to imagine transferring sovereignty. and that is exactly the outcome that some are purposefully accelerating. let's be clear. settlement expansion has nothing to do with israel's security. many settlements actually increase the security burden on the israeli defense forces and leaders of the settler movement are motivated by ideological imperatives that ignore legitimate palestinian aspirations. among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under israel's own laws. they're often located on private palestinian land. and strategically placed in locations that make two states
impossible. there are over 100 of these outposts. and since 2011, nearly one-third of them have been or are being legalized. despite pledges by past israeli governments to dismantle many of them. now leaders of the settler movement have advanced unprecedented new legislation that would legalize most of those outposts. for the first time, it would apply israeli domestic law to the west bank. rather than military law. when the law passed in the ka n knesset, one said today the israeli knesset moved from establishing a palestinian state towards israeli sovereignty in
judea and samaria. now, you may
hear from advocates that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace. because the settlers that tonigdon't wa to leave. but that misses a critical point, my friends. subject to israel's law. does anyone here believe the settlers will submit to palestinian? likewise, some supporters of the settlement argue they can stay in their settlements and remain as israeli in their enclave protected by the idf. well, there are over 80 settlements east of the separation barrier.
many located in places that would make a continuous --
a contiguous palestinian state impossible. does anyone seriously think if they just stay where they are you can still have a viable palestinian state? some have asked, why can't we build in the blocks? which everyone knows will eventually be part of israel. well, the reason, building there or anywhere else in the west bank now results in such push back that the decision of what constitutes a block is being made unilaterally by the israeli government. without consultation. without the consent of the palestinians. and without granting the palestinians a reciprocal right to build in what will be by most accounts part of palestine. bottom line, without agreement or mutuality, the unilateral choices become a major point contention.
and that is why we are here where we are. you may hear these remote settlements aren't a problem because they only take up a very small percentage of the land. again and again we've made it clear. it's not just a question the amount of land available in the west bank. it's whether the land can be connected. or it's broken up int parcels like swiss cheese that could never constitute a real state. the more the outposts are built, the more theexpand, the less possible it is to create a contiguous state. the settlement is not just the land it is on, it's also what the location does to the movement of people. what it does to the ability of a road to connect people. one community to another. what it does to the sense of statehood. that is chipped away with each new construction. no one thinking seriously about
peace can ignore the reality of what the settlements pose to that peace. but the problem obviously goes well beyond settlements. trends indicate a comprehensive effort to take the west bank land for israel and prevent any palestinian development there. today, the 60% of the west bank known as area c, much of which was supposed to be transferred to palestinian control long ago under the oslo accords, much of it is effectively off limits to palestinian development. most take taken for use by israel, simply unilaterally designated it as state land or included it in the jurisdiction of regional settlement counsels.
israeli farms flourish in the jordan river valley. israeli resorts line the shores of the dead sea. where palestinian development is not allowed. in fact, almost no private palestinian building is approved in area c at all. only one permit was issued by israel in all of 2014 and 2015. while approvals for hundreds of settlement units were advanced during that same period. moreover, palestinian structures in area c that do not have a permit from the israeli military are potentially subject to demolition. they're currently being demolished at an historically high rate. over 1,300 palestinians, including over 600 children, have been displaced by demolitions in 2016 alone. more than any previous year. so the settler agenda is defining the future of israel.
and their stated purpose is clear. they believe in one state. greater israel. in fact, one prominent minister who heads a pro-settler party declared just after the u.s. election, and i quote, the era of the two-state solution is over. end quote. and many other coalition ministers publicly reject a palestinian state. and they are increasingly getting their way. with plans for hubs of n s hun new units in east jerusalem announced and talk of major rebuilding effort in the west bank to follow. so why are we so concerned? why does this matter? well, ask yourselves these questions. what happens if that agenda succeeds? where does that lead? there are currently about 2.75 million palestinians living under military occupation in the west bank. most of them in areas a and b.
40% of the west bank. where they have limited autonomy. they are restricted in their daily movements by a web of checkpoints and unable to travel into or out of the west bank without a permit from the israelis. if there is only one state, you would have millions of palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves in the middle of the west bank. with no real political rights, separate legal, education and transport systems. vast income disparities. under a permanent military occupation that deprives them of the most basic freedoms. separate and unequal is what you would have. and nobody can explain how that works. would it israeli accept living that way? would an american accept living that way? will the world accept it? if the occupation becomes permanent over the time the palestinian authority could simply dissolve, turn over all
the administrative and security responsibilities to israelis, what would happen then? who would administer the schools and hospitals? does israel want to pay for the billions of dollars of lost international assistance that the palestinian authorities now receive? would the israeli defense force police the streets of every single palestinian city and town? how would israel respond to a growing civil rights movement from palestinians demanding a right to vote or protest unrest across the west bank. how does israel reconcile a permanent occupation with democratic ideals? how does the u.s. continue to defend that and still live up to our own democratic ideals? nobody has ever provided good answers to those questions because there aren't any. and there would be an increasing risk of more intense violence between palestinians and settlers and complete despair
among palestinians that would create very fertile ground for extremists. with all the external threats that israel faces today which we are very cognizant of and working with them to deal with, does it really want an intensifying conflict in the west bank? how does that help israel's security? how does that help the region? the answer is it doesn't. which is precisely why so many senior israeli military and intelligence leaders past and present believe the two-state solution is the only real answer for israel's long-term security. one thing we do know. if israel goes down the one state path it will never have true peace with the rest of the arab world. i can say that with certaiy. the arab countries have made clear they will not make peace
with israel without resolving the israeli/palestinian conflict. that's not where their loyalties lie. that's not where their politics are. but there is something new here. common interests in countering iran's destabilizing activities, in fighting extremists as well as diversifying their economies have created real possibilities for something different if israel takes advantage of the opportunities for peace. i have spent time dealing with this and they are prepared for a fundamentally different relationship with israel. that was stated in the arab peace initiative years ago. in all my recent conversations arab leaders confirmed their readiness in the context of israeli palestinian peace not just to normalize relations but
to work openly on securing that peace with significant regional security cooperation. it's waiting. it's right there. many have shown a willingness to support negotiations and to take steps on the path to normalization to relations, including public meetings, providing there is a meaningful progress toward a two-state solution. my friends, that's a real opportunity that we should not allow to be missed. that raises one final question. is ours the generation that gives up on the dream of a jewish democratic state of israel living in peace and security with its neighbors? because that's really what's at stake. now that's what informed our vote at the security council last week. the need to preserve the two-state solution. and both sides in this conflict
must take responsibility to do that. we have repeatedly and emphatically stressed to the palestinians that all incitement of violence must stop. we have consistently condemned all violence and terrorism. we have strongly opposed unilateral efforts to delegitimize israel in international fora. we have made countless public and private exhortations to the israelis to stop the march of settlements. literally hundreds of conversations with prime minister netanyahu i have made clear that continued settlement activity would only increase pressure for an international response. we have all known for some time that the palestinians were intent on moving forward in the u.n. with a settlement's resolution. i advised the prime minister repeatedly that further settlement activity only invited u.n. action. yet the settlement activity just increased. including advancing the
unprecedented legislation to legalize settler outposts that the prime minister himself warnled could expose israel to action at the security council and even international prosecution. before deciding to support it. in the end we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution. we could not turn a blind eye to palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. it is not in u.s. interests to help anyone on either side create a unitary state. we may not be able to stop them. but we cannot be exen expected to defend them. it is certainly not the role of any country to vote against its own policies. that's why we decided not to block the u.n. resolution that
makes clear both sides have to take steps to save the two-state solution while there is still time. we did not take this decision lightly. the obama administration has always defended israel against any effort at the u.n. and any international fora or biased and one-sided resolutions that seek to under mine its legitimacy or security. that has not changed. didn't change with this vote. but remember, it's important to note that every united states administration -- republican and democratic -- has opposed settlements as contrary to the prospects for peace. and action that the u.n. security council is far from unprecedented. in fact, previous administrations of both political parties allowed resolutions that were critical of israel to pass, including on settlements, on dozens of occasions under george w. bush
alone the council passed six resolutions that israel opposed including one that endorsed a plan calling for a complete freeze on settlements including natural growth. let me read you the lead paragraph from a "new york times" story dated december 23. i quote, with the united states abstaining the security council adopted a resolution today strongly deploring israel's handling of the disturbances in the occupied territories which the resolution defined as including jerusalem. all of the 14 other security council members voted in favor. my friends, that story was not written last week. it was written december 23, 1987. 26 years to the day that we voted last week when ronald reagan was president.
yet despite growing pressure the obama administration held a strong line against u.n. action -- any u.n. action. we were the only administration since 1967 that had not allowed any resolution to pass that israel opposed. in fact, the only time in eight years the obama administration exercised its veto at the united nations was against a one-sided settlement resolution in 2011. and that resolution didn't mention incitement or violence. let's look at what happened since then. since then there have been over 30,000 settlement units advanced through some stage of the planning process. that's right. over 30,000 settlement units advanced notwithstanding the positions of the united states and other countries. if we had vetoed this resolution the other day, the united states would have been giving license
to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose. so we reject the criticism that this vote abandons israel. on the contrary. it is not this resolution that is isolating israel. it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. virtually every country in the world other than israel opposes settlements. that includes many of the friends of israel, including the united kingdom, france, russia, all of whom voted in favor of the settlements resolution in 2011 that we vetoed and again this year along with every other member of the council. in fact, this resolution simply reaffirms statements made by the security council on the legality of settlements over several decades. it does not break new ground. in 1978, the state department
legal adviser advised the congress of his conclusion that israel's government, the israeli government's program of establishing civilian settlements in occupied territory is inconsistent with international law. we have seen no change since then to affect that fundamental conclusion. you may have heard some criticized the resolution for calling east jerusalem occupied territory. to be clear, there was absolutely nothing new in last week's resolution on that issue. it was one of a long line of security council resolutions that included east jerusalem as part of the territories occupied by israel in 1967. that includes resolutions passed by the security council under president reagan and president george h.w. bush.